The University of California Police Department has been condemned in numerous reports over the past decade for being too aggressive with student protesters, but they think it'd be a good idea for them to have an armored vehicle.
The UCPD, Berkeley Police Department and Albany Police Department recently decided to partner to seek funding for an armored vehicle that the UCPD would retain custody of, the Daily Cal reports. The proposal asking for funding hasn't been given to the Berkley City Council yet, however, community members are already lining up in opposition.
The agencies plan to receive funding from the Urban Areas Security Initiative, a Department of Homeland Security nonprofit organization that is intended to financially support agencies that are in high risk of a terrorist attack with “security enhancements.”
However, some residents believe the armored car is a symbol of fear and has been obtained in an effort to suppress protests, such as when an armored vehicle was previously used to break up the May 1 Occupy Oakland protest.
“We do not want our police officers sent to other jurisdictions to suppress protected First Amendment activity or non-violent civil disobedience,” the Social Justice Committee of the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists stated in a letter to members of the Berkeley Police Review Commission and Subcommittee on Mutual Aid Pacts. “(R)ecent events, including various police agencies’ responses to Occupy demonstrations, show that there is a need for additional review of our mutual aid policy.”
The Coalition for a Safe Berkeley say the Urban Areas Security Initiative is a step towards "militarizing" local police agencies, according to the Daily Cal. The Gray Panthers and the SHARE Foundation have also been skeptical of the mutual aid proposal the city council will consider along with the possible armored vehicle.
City council member Kriss Worthington, who has been critical of the UCPD in the past, said he first heard of the armored car from the general public, not from the police agencies. "The proposal wasn't presented to the council in any grant request form."
After the community condemned UC Berkeley campus police for jabbing unarmed student protesters with clubs, the city council voted against a mutual aid agreement with the department. The UC Berkeley police defended themselves by saying it was "an act of violence" when students linked arms.
Check Out A Brief History Of University Of California Campus Police Using Excessive Force On Students: